The Ontario Prospectors Association's (OPA) board of directors is calling for the McGuinty government to amend The Far North Act prior to royal proclamation.
The OPA is concerned the passing of the act will cripple exploration and related economic development in Ontario's boreal forest lands, according to a Sept. 30 press release. The Far North Act recently passed third reading.
The recent discoveries of chromite, copper, nickel and platinum group elements within the Ring of Fire demonstrate the vast mineral potential of the area. Although the Ring of Fire claims are in good standing because they were staked prior to the third reading, part of the proposed railroad corridor to the Ring of Fire will actually exist on a portion of the land that may be protected.
The government's protection target is 50 per cent or 225,000 square kilometres of land under a proposed grid of interconnected waterway parks and protected spaces.
The OPA's executive director Garry Clark has concerns about the term “protection,” what it will mean, and how the government will decide which 50 per cent will be protected.
“McGuinty has said these will be 'no-go zones' for mining or industrial activity,” Clark said. “That is not what you want. You want multi-use. As explorers, we're not out there to rape and pillage the landscape. We're trying to make sure there is an even balance and rehabilitate.”
Clark said the exploration industry wants to see a commitment to the science behind the choices of land that will be protected.
“We really don't know what is there,” he said, referring to the Far North, of which only six per cent is harvestable.
“Our industry needs some strong geoscience dedication so there is a lot of money spent on collecting geoscience data over the area to make sure we're not parking or protecting an area that might be another Ring of Fire or Musselwhite Mine,” both of which are within the area the act refers to as the “Far North.”
The OPA will continue to lobby the government to make amendments before the final proclamation of the act.